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Canyons around Page (July 5, 2009)

Day in Page area: Lower Antelope Canyon, Water Holes Slot Canyon and trip to Lee’s Ferry with a hike into Cathedral Wash.

Lower Antelope Canyon


Antelope Canyon is a narrow slot canyon, sculpted by water, where a soft light illuminates red walls. There are two distinct canyons: Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. We had decided to go into Lower Antelope Canyon as it is less visited even if it offers very nice colours. The canyon is located in Navajo country so we must pay an entrance fee which is quite expensive.
We started the visit at 8 am with a group of around 20 people and a Navajo guide. After a short walk we reached the entrance of the canyon; there a sign indicates that 11 people, mainly French, died inside the canyon during a flash flood in 1997. There had been a storm 2 hours before few kilometres away from the canyon.
Stairs help get through the canyon which is very narrow and around 10 metres deep. During this morning a soft light entered inside and gave orange red colour effects on the walls. Antelope Canyon was formed by erosion due to water, winds and sands over the years.

Lower Antelope Canyon, Arizona Lower Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Lower Antelope Canyon, Arizona Lower Antelope Canyon.

Lower Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Lower Antelope Canyon, Arizona Lower Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Lower Antelope Canyon, Arizona Lower Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Cathedral Wash and Lee's Ferry


Then, we drove toward Lee’s Ferry. We hiked into Cathedral Wash, a canyon which leads to Colorado River. Even if we were inside the canyon it was not always easy to find the way, sometimes we had to climb up rocks to move forward. After hiking one hour we reached the Colorado River shores. Some rafts were stopped there to picnic. One of them told us that they had just begun their trip; they were doing a 250 miles trip on Colorado River over around 20 days. They asked for a private permit 17 years before!

Back to the car we went to Lee’s Ferry. There the river is calm and with a deep green colour. The name of this place comes from John D. Lee, a Mormon who had established there in 1871 a ferry to cross the river. Colorado River is deeply embanked and so difficult to cross. During 60 years it was the only place to cross for miles around, up to Navajo Bride building in 1929. Today, Lee’s Ferry is the main starting point for rafting trips through the Grand Canyon.

Cathedral Wash, Arizona Cathedral Wash, Arizona
Cathedral Wash.
Lee's Ferry, Arizona Lee's Ferry, Arizona

Lee's Ferry, Arizona
Colorado River at Lee's Ferry.

Lee's Ferry, Arizona
Balanced Rock.

Water Holes Slot Canyon


Before getting back to the hotel we stopped few miles before Page for a last hike. Although it doesn’t have the unique form and colour of Antelope Canyon, Water Holes Canyon is a really nice place. The canyon is bisected by road US 89 but we had to descend on a slickrock slope into the canyon. We started with western side; the canyon is quiet narrow, with few obstacles. The carcass of a car helped us to descend a first drop-off, but soon we reached a second drop-off which could not go down without ropes. Then we retraced our steps and went to the eastern side of the canyon. This part is easier, without obstacle up to an impassable vertical rock face. This canyon is not popular; consequently we could enjoy it alone.

Water Holes Canyon, Arizona Water Holes Canyon, Arizona
Water Holes Canyon, Arizona

Water Holes Canyon, Arizona Water Holes Canyon, Arizona

Information


  • The fee at Lower Antelope Canyon was $20/pers in July 2009. It doesn’t include the $6 Navajo backcountry permit to access in Navajo territory.
  • A backcountry permit is also needed since Water Holes Canyon is located in Navajo territory. You can purchase the permit at the gate of the Antelope Canyon tribal park.

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